Overflow crowd Tuesday for the Malbec tasting, almost too much. The wines were great, people were happy, but overall very hectic and harried, and I felt like we couldn’t give the level of service we strive for. So, we’ve decided to change the format of the tastings to provide a better customer experience – starting this coming week, we’re going to require RSVPs and break the tasting up into three seatings, at 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30, with a max of 15 per seating (which will leave some seats open for regular bar customers who aren’t there for the tasting). That should space things out and keep it manageable for us while giving us more time to spend with you discussing the wines.
Back to the Malbecs. I picked the wines to showcase different styles of Malbec, and was quite happy with how they turned out – all good, all unique.
Clos La Coutale 2006 Cahors, France: From the birthplace of Malbec; nice earthy rusticity to it, with dark plum, licorice, and a soft round mouthfeel. We’re out of the ‘06 vintage now but I’ll be tasting the ‘07 when it arrives in a week or two to see if it’s a worthy successor.
Maipe 2007 Malbec, Mendoza Argentina: The under $10 entry – not the most complex Malbec, but a great introduction to the Argentinean style. Much more fruit forward, with juicy dark blueberry fruit. Clean and pure, with low tannins (only 10% of the wine saw oak, and for only three months). Very well-made for the price.
Furque 2007 Malbec, Mendoza Argentina: A more rustic style for Argentina; flavor-wise, almost a combination of the first two. Nice structure, slight pleasant herbaceous (though not underripe) character, good structure, black fruit, licorice, and spice.
Vina Cobos 2007 “Felino” Malbec, Mendoza Argentina: This is Paul Hobbs’ Argentinean winery (he also consults for several others), and this wine showcases his rich, lush style. Big ripe fruit, some notes of creamy vanilla, spicy tannins, good acidity. This was a favorite among many at the tasting, and with good reason. (Actually, all were quite popular, if you judge by what people bought after the tasting; we sold about equal amounts of everything except the Catena, which sold less because it’s considerably more expensive.)
Orzada 2005 Malbec, Lontue Chile: This was the Cabernet-like entry, chosen because it showcases how structured and big Malbec can be. A significant amount of oak aging gave structure and power, and the few years of age on it integrated and softened it nicely. Smooth and full, with more of a black fruit profile than the other wines.
Bodega Catena Zapata 2005 Catena Alta Malbec, Mendoza Argentina: Qualitatively, the star of the tasting (which it should be, at $50). I chose this to show how good Malbec can be, and it delivered. Incredible aromatics on the wine – blueberry, mineral, violets, spice, slight chocolate – and a layered palate with loads of flavors and complexity. Great acidity and freshness; this wine will age well for another 6-8 years. Simply delicious.